Let us romanticize a monk, hunched-over, candle-lit,
a sackcloth habit snuggled close
to repel the winds besieging his abbey, medieval, dark,
his stylus tracing pregnant sounds, presumably Latin,
though perhaps Greek, Hebrew, some proto-dialect,
or the heathen’s vocabulary in their stories he loves,
Grendel, demonic, of the line of Cain,
one tale redeemed by the one he believes
which questions if Unferth, kith-killer, is beast or man.
This ink stands opposite the page, black versus white,
and yet our grey-cells imagine colour,
the flame’s soft glow, an icicle’s depth, blood’s red,
trusting that symbols represent, that meaning resides somewhere,
compelling us all to speak from the heart,
that timeless entity ruled by reason (or so we think)
to read our vast world like a book, each character
at work, every school-day’s play-script, erotic dramas,
and history’s liturgies, both sacred and secular,
stimulants derived from outside ourselves, random or determined,
that demand we respond to this old scribe’s conviction
that he merely reflects a superior poet
whose work is a vivid illumination, unfathomable.
Image: Grendel, by J. R. Skelton, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.